Any Excuse To See A Tiara (Or Three)

Visiting London soon? For those who appreciate the UNABASHED GLAMOUR of a tiara or two, KENSINGTON PALACE needs to be added to the itinerary …

 

As Queen Victoria’s birthplace and childhood home, it is already synonymous with her story, but a new exhibition that opened at the weekend gives us a beautiful insight into some of her most personal possessions – including some absolutely dazzling jewels gifted to her by her beloved Albert.

At the centre of it all is a breathtaking diamond and emerald tiara; the main stone of which weighs 15cts. It is the only tiara designed by a consort for his Queen and points not just to Albert’s eye for design but of course his great love of Victoria. Created in 1845 to match a magnificent emerald suite of jewels (each piece also given by Albert, and including a 20ct emerald in the brooch alone) it is incredible to see the full collection together up close. See if you can spot the discrepancy in the pair of earrings: one of the emeralds is in fact synthetic; a replacement from when the original stone was lost. Sotheby’s jewellery specialist Justin Roberts, on hand at the unveiling on Thursday, revealed this tidbit, talking about how changing it back to a real stone was discussed – but how in the end it was decided that the current incarnation is such a part of the piece’s story that it will never be changed.

 

In addition to the emerald parure, a diamond Kokoshnik by London jeweller Hancocks, as well as the Fife tiara (originally owned by Victoria’s granddaughter, Louise, but since given to the government in lieu of inheritance tax, natch) is on display. It is an astounding example of workmanship by the Parisian jeweller Massin – featuring incredible ‘invisible’ settings to make not just for a much lighter tiara than anything that would have come before it – but to allow the diamonds to truly shine as they move and tremble in their delicate fittings.

 

For history, but especially jewellery, lovers, this exhibition is a must-see; it is compact but impressive and will run for the remainder of the year.

For more information visit the Kensington Palace website.

Natasha Sherling

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